The Opera Theatre presented a fun mix of swashbuckling and irreverent humor in their performances of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” on Feb. 25-27.
The story follows the misadventures of Frederic, who was thrust into pirate apprenticeship when his nurse, Ruth, misheard her orders to apprentice him to a pilot. Bound to 21 years of service and by his strong sense of duty, the young lad endures his indenture, despite viewing the trade with disgust.
When Frederic is 21, he is more than prepared to quit the band of pirates, despite insisting that he has come to love them individually. Ruth, 36 years his senior, wishes to marry the boy, but Frederic is curious whether he is as beautiful as she says. Instead, he becomes smitten with the daughter of the Major General, Mabel, and she with him.
The second act of the amusing farce brings several truths to light. Ruth and the Pirate King come to tell Frederic that because he was born on a leap year on Feb. 29, he has actually celebrated only five birthdays and is still bound to the pirates.
The police are of no help in protecting anyone in this situation, as they consist of a bumbling, silly and cowardly bunch who are much more suited to provide comic relief and know that in the face of danger, “our obvious course is now to hide.”
Concluding in an appropriately ridiculous manner, before they could be apprehended in Queen Victoria’s name, it is revealed that the pirates are “not of the common throng, but all noblemen who have gone wrong” and are hence permitted to take the major general’s wards as wives.
Rachel Samuel, sophomore English and elementary education major, attended the play and was pleased the performance. “This was the very first play I saw as a kid and the show was fabulous and the singing was amazing,” she said.
Tim Serabian, junior elementary education major with a concentration in math, science and technology, who played the role of the Major General, possessed a strong understanding of the role. His father played the same role twice and Serabian grew up on this musical.
While others were watching and reciting Sesame Street, he says, “I was singing these songs as a lad, boots up to my knees.”
One of the most amusing songs to listen to was “I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General,” a rapid-fire tongue twister that addresses all his expertise, which, as keen listeners discovered, included integral and differential calculus and Babylonian cuneiform. Serabian accredits his ability to master this lyrical challenge to the utilization of memorization and lip exercises.
Rain, snow or any other inclement weather would not have dampened the energy of this cast. However, snowy conditions did force the cancellation of the Thursday evening performance. Despite this setback, the performers put on quite a show.
Christina Rivera, junior music education major, excelled in her role as Mabel, which she had once played during her senior year of high school. Her stunning soprano voice was nearly flawless.
Apparently, singing talent runs in the family, as, according to Rivera, her grandmother sang on the Puerto Rican radio and her mother has, as she says, “the most beautiful voice.”
Chris Walsh, freshman philosophy major, played the role of Frederic. Having the distinction of being one of the few participants who was not a music major, he felt he had to compensate by spending a lot of time listening to the recording of the performance. The audience was glad to see that his method of preparation succeeded, as he was very well-versed in the role.
Every aspect of the show helped “Pirates of Penzance” succeed as well as it did. The audience became part of the show as pirates crept down the aisles and climbed over seats with beads in hand to give to audience members. An immensely talented cast was assembled and had little difficulty entertaining the College community.